Cooking From Scratch - Appetizers
The holidays are upon us, which means holiday parties. Whether you are hosting one or attending one, chances are you will have to prepare an appetizer at some point. While crackers with sliced cheese and a veggie tray are good things to have on hand for a party, appetizers can be a lot more interesting and tastier than that.
Many people like to have hot appetizers as well as cold appetizers at parties. As a host though, you don't want to spend the party in the kitchen. Appetizers that can be made ahead of time and popped in the oven for a few minutes at party time are a life saver for a hostess.
My all time favorite appetizer is Bacon Wrapped Rumaki. This is a very simple dish that requires few ingredients, little prep time, and cooks fast. It can stay in the refrigerator until almost needed and then popped in the oven for a few minutes. The ingredients needed are one 8 oz can of whole water chestnuts, drained, 1/4 cup of soy sauce, 1 tablespoon of sugar and bacon slices cut into thirds. Usually 8 slices of bacon will be enough for one can of water chestnuts.
In a small bowl combine the water chestnuts, soy sauce and sugar and mix well. Let stand at room temperature for 30 minutes. Wrap 1 piece of bacon around each water chestnut and secure with a toothpick and place in a shallow baking pan. Broil 4-6 inches from heat for 4-7 minutes until the bacon is crisp. If you want to fix these appetizers in shifts, you can reuse the marinade. You can prepare these and put into the fridge until needed and then broil when needed.
Stuffing balls are a great finger food and a filling appetizer. Check here for the recipe. These can be made ahead of time and frozen. The day of the party, place them on baking sheets in the refrigerator to thaw. Place in 325 degree oven for 20 minutes when needed.
Another delicious appetizer that can be made ahead of time is Spinach Balls. I got this recipe from The Colorado Cookbook and it has worked well for many people. You need 10 ounces of fresh or frozen spinach chopped, 1/2 large onion minced, 2 eggs beaten, 1/3 cup butter melted, 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese, 1/2 clove of garlic minced, 1/2 teaspoon thyme, 1/2 teaspoon pepper and 1 cup of stuffing mix crushed.
Cook the spinach and squeeze dry. Mix together the spinach, onion, eggs, butter, cheese garlic, thyme and pepper. Add the stuffing crumbs and mix thoroughly. Shape into 1/2 inch balls and chill for several hours to blend the flavors or freeze for later use. Bake in a 350 degree oven for 15 minutes, or 20 minutes if frozen. This recipe makes 8 dozen and should be plenty for your holiday party.
Instead of your basic cheese and cracker tray why not try something different with your crackers? There are so many options you can put on crackers, the possibilities are endless. Pretty much any dip you make (i.e. crap, spinach, veggie, cheese, humus or ranch) can be a topper for crackers. Add a sprig of fresh parsley for garnish and you have just dressed up your basic cheese and cracker tray.
One of my favorite things to do with crackers is to place a slice of cheese on top of each cracker and top it all with 1/2 a cherry tomato or a few olive slices. Pepper Jack or Colby Jack cheese work really well, however you could probably use any type of hard cheese for this. Broil these for just a couple of minutes to melt the cheese and it is delicious.
Instead of a fruit tray, why not make a fruit kabob instead? Alternate fruits such as cantaloupe, honey dew, grapes, strawberries, and pineapple on a long toothpick. You could provide a yogurt dip to go with the fruit if you would like, however it isn't necessary.
If you are looking for meats to serve at your party here is an easy recipe for roast or chicken. Slice a roast or chicken (uncooked) thinly and marinate in a teriyaki sauce for a few hours. Then place the meat onto long toothpicks starting at one end of the meat and weaving in and out of the sides until you get to the other end. Leave a couple of inches at the bottom of the stick where you are holding it. Broil for 7-10 minutes. A nice way to present this is to either make or buy a large round bread, such as sourdough. Poke the bottom of each spear into the bread so that they are all standing upright. Guests can remove them as needed easily.
If you are hosting a party or just bringing an appetizer these easy, delicious appetizers that can be made ahead and heated at the last minute will serve you well. Try some and enjoy!
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